Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Work together to revive downtown

Published:Tuesday | January 11, 2011 | 12:00 AM


While I do not agree with the idea of replacing the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre with a university as part of a broader revitalisation plan for the commercial district of downtown Kingston, I nevertheless wish to commend Gassan Azan and other private-sector interests for attempting to think seriously through an economic model and an overall strategy for the economic development of our capital.

But, contrary to Mr Azan's implied notion, the Government is not the only impediment to progress.

Truth be told, agreeing on and implementing a new and comprehensive approach to reviving our country's distressed urban communities will not be without its challenges, if only because the private sector, Government, inner-city residents and the public, at large, all hold entrenched attitudes and prejudices about the inner city and its problems.

uncomfortable position

What is more, rethinking the future of the inner city in economic, rather than social, terms will be uncomfortable for many who have devoted years to social causes and who view profit and business, in general, with suspicion.

Activists, for example, accustomed to lobbying for more government resources, will find it difficult to embrace a strategy for fostering wealth creation. We can even expect some of our elected officials, used to framing urban problems in social terms, to be resistant to changing legislation, redirecting resources, and taking on recalcitrant bureaucracies.

Nonetheless, these changes must be made if Mr Azan's and the private sector's vision of economically viable redevelopment is to be realised. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in embracing this campaign.

I am, etc.,